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Syria president backs work of ‘impartial’ Red Cross

President Bashar al-Assad told Red Cross chief Peter Maurer on Tuesday that he supports the work of the aid group in Syria so long as it remains “impartial and independent,” state televisionreported. “President Assad assured the president of the International Committee of the Red Cross that he welcomed the humanitarian operations carried out by the committee on the ground in Syria,…

Online dealers illegally trade in endangered wildlife

Bashful and skittish, the Kaiser’s spotted newt is intriguing and beautiful. With only around 1,000 adults left in the wild in just four mountain streams in Iran, it is also critically endangered. But the black, white and orange salamanders are openly on sale for as little as £65 on numerous…

Study: Freezing embryos may result in healthier babies

Women who become pregnant with previously frozen IVF embryos tend to have healthier babies and fewer complications than those who have fresh embryos implanted, research suggests. Fertility doctors found that mothers had a lower risk of bleeding in pregnancies with embryos that had been frozen and thawed, and went on…

China suspends official over drunken plane ‘assault’

A Chinese military official has been suspended and placed under investigation over accusations of a drunken assault on a flight attendant, state media said Tuesday. Fang Daguo was suspended from his job with the armed forces department of the southern city of Guangzhou, the state-run China Daily said, after an…

Report: U.S. nears deal to cut Egypt’s debt by $1 billion

The United States is weighing a deal with Egypt’s new rulers to relieve $1 billion worth of debt, The New York Times reported. U.S. President Barack Obama first promised the aid in May 2011, along with another $1 billion destined to assist Egypt’s democratic transition after the fall of longtime…

Yosemite open despite virus that killed two

LOS ANGELES — The deadly virus raising fears at California’s Yosemite National Park does not spread easily, and, despite two recent deaths, does not warrant closing the park, a spokeswoman said Monday. So far, at least six cases have been confirmed of the hantavirus pulmonary syndrome (HPS), a rare but…

‘Green Mile’ actor Michael Clarke Duncan dead at 54

LOS ANGELES — Michael Clarke Duncan, who was nominated for an Academy Award for his role in “The Green Mile,” an adaptation of a Stephen King work, died Monday at age 54, his representatives said. Duncan “passed away peacefully today,” the manager, Dan Spilo, told AFP. “He was a great…

Gaza teen dies after setting self alight

GAZA CITY, Palestinian Territories — A 17-year-old Gazan died on Sunday, four days after setting himself alight in desperation over financial problems, medical sources and his family said on Monday. Ehab Abu al-Nada from Gaza City’s Shati refugee camp, set himself on fire on Wednesday outside the city’s Al-Shifa hospital,…

U.S. voters asked ‘are you better off than 4 years ago?’

CHARLOTTE, North Carolina — A simple question that distils much of the debate swirling in America’s Great Recession election appears to have Democrats tied in knots. Inspired by Ronald Reagan’s winning 1980 election pitch, Republicans have urged voters to ask themselves “are you better off today than you were four…

FARC rebel chief confirms Colombia peace talks

BOGOTA — The leader of Colombia’s leftist FARC rebels confirmed Monday they were ready to sit down at the peace negotiating table in a bid to end Latin America’s last armed conflict, now nearly 50 years old. “We come to the table for dialogue without rancor, or arrogance,” FARC leader…

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